What is it about that first Pina Colada, Rum Punch, Daiquiri or even local beer like Red Stripe or Kalik that makes it feel like your vacation has really started?  It’s a moment combining the right libation and setting, usually including sand, sea and sunshine, that marks the beginning of your tropical escape.

When I went to the Bahamas a few weeks ago, it took a while for this moment to come to pass.  I was at a business conference at a large resort/ casino in Nassau and I’m sure they had lots of fancy, fruity cocktails on offer, but I didn’t even explore the options, drinking one in an air conditioned, marble- coated décor that made me feel like I was in a luxury shopping center would have been useless.coco tree drinkmemag.com drink me coco tree

And then came the weekend and a short 15 minute plane ride to Andros, with a journey of just 26 miles I had found what I was looking for.  As I walked down the sandy ocean path to my cabin at Small Hope Bay I noticed a sign which I found amusing, “Coconut Tree” it said.  I looked up and under the giant fronds there was indeed a cluster of big green coconuts.  “gee guys, I thought to myself, how would I have ever figured that one out….”

Every night before dinner there is a happy hour, and since it is a small resort it’s a very convivial and welcoming atmosphere.  Drinks are all-inclusive and I think I had a pineapple juice with a local coconut liqueur and then a rum and coke, I loved the vibe and the view, but my crowning cocktail moment was still lacking.

And then during dinner, they mentioned that the following night’s festivities would be their traditional Saturday night Bahamian feast.  Conch fritters and Conch ceviche would be on the menu and to drink Sky Juice made with fresh coconut water.sky juice & conch drinkmemag.com drink me Sky Juice and Conch

The next day after my afternoon nap I headed to the main building for a cooking lesson and there in the middle of the sandy path was a big, green coconut. I picked it up and shook it, the sloshing sound indicated there was coconut water to be had.  I carried it to reception, trying to make my contribution to the evening’s punch.  Somehow though the eager (and now in retrospect incredibly insightful) employee I had handed the coconut off to took it as a request for a drink.  A few minutes into the start of my cooking class a glass of milky white liquid with a wedge of fresh coconut as a garnish appeared.   My hands were slimy from cleaning seafood, but I pressed my palms together and lifted it to take a sip.

I’m not sure if it was because it was from my own coconut that I found on the beach, or that someone went through all of that effort just for me, probably both, but now my vacation had started.Bahamian Sky Cocktail 2 drinkmemag.com drink me coco tree

Bahamian Sky Juice

2 oz Gin
1 oz sweetened condensed milk
6 oz coconut water
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
Tiny pinch, ground cinnamon

Put all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into glass, add garnish